I am honored to teach the Trek class in our Awana program on Wednesday nights. I have the group between eleven and fourteen years old. This group of kids is going to bless me beyond words this year. I can already feel it. Last night we were able to begin our books. Our lesson was on why should we read the bible. If I have learned anything about this age is that you never stay on one subject for long.
We were soon talking about useless information and how much we carry in our brains. I had one student speak up and say, "We can have knowledge of all kinds, but without wisdom it is useless!!" Hello, he is twelve years old my friends. What a wise young man he is and what amazing parents he has to teach him such valuable wisdom at an early age.
Some of my kids are not so blessed. They have never been in church and they wonder, "Why do I really need to know what the bible says?" They don't have direction and they are missing those valuable people who need to influence their lives on a daily basis. Kids just simply want to understand. They have question after question and if we give them a chance we can learn much from them.
Last night while speaking on useless information one child speaks up and says, "Learning keyboarding is useless." Well of course now we were on our way to a new conversation. Again, they last about five minutes at a time. So, we talked about how keyboarding is important and a valuable tool. I began to share with the kids we didn't use keyboards when I was in seventh grade. We didn't have computers in our class rooms. We didn't have to worry about keyboarding on a laptop, we later had typing class on a manual typewriter. Oh my! We didn't have texting. You actually had to pick up a phone, and one that dialed on top of that. So, you actually had to know the number of the person, you just didn't click on their name. We didn't have the computer to look up valuable information. We had the dictionary and encyclopedia. Oh my, we didn't even have spell check! We too went to the library each week and used the card catalog to look up a book we wanted. We didn't have hundred dollar video games to choose from. We um, had pong!! Now there was an exciting game, right? One little ball, or dot, moving from side to side as you tried to hit it back over. I remember thinking this was the coolest thing ever! We didn't have Old Navy and Aeropostle. We had Sears and JC Penny's. You were either slim or if you were a boy, you could find yourself in the husky section! That would be wear my husband found himself.
Each year we got five new outfits for school and a new pair of shoes for the winter. Even got a new pair of tennis shoes for gym. A new coat for the winter and a back pack? Are you kidding me? We carried arm fulls of books everywhere we went. There were no cute bags to carry everything in.
Now, that next year I went to a Catholic high school, so clothes became uniforms and that was a whole new dilemma.
Things were just different. Things were simple, or so they seemed. So, I am now listening to myself speak to my kids and I am thinking, "Oh my gosh, I am now one of those old people who say, 'Well, in my day we...'" I stopped and laughed at myself. The look on the kid's faces was one of horror. "How did you survive?" Kids today never leave home without their phone and they have a laptop and all the easy conveniences that the modern world has to give.
That leaves me to think, "Are we really giving our kids more by giving them more?" It seems the more we give the more they want. The more they have the easier they want it. What happened to just old fashioned work for an allowance each week? What has happened to chores and if you do not do them you do not get to go anywhere this weekend? What happened to a curfew? What has happened to just saying, "NO?" I think we have begun to say yes way too much. In saying yes, we are not really helping our kids grow, we are holding them back from really experiencing what it means to work and respect yourself.
We no longer sit down to dinner together. We don't even play games anymore. My mom and I used to play Yahtzee on my snow days. Oh, and snow days? We went to school when there was snow on the ground. We went with chains on the tires and we plowed through that snow and cold weather and guess what? We made it!
I was blessed, but my parents new how to say no to me. I never had a phone in my room. Didn't have a television in my room. That was just not allowed and of course no computer. When I talked on the phone I got twenty minutes and I talked in the kitchen. Some may say, "Wow, your parents were strict." No, not really, I just had boundaries and I knew my limits. I knew when I crossed the line. When I did there was a punishment waiting for me. Do we even do that anymore?
What I am finding in teaching is that kids want direction. They want someone there to lead them. They want someone to care enough to say, "No." They want boundaries even if they say something different. They want parents at home at night. They want to eat dinner and watch a movie with their family.
We give way too much to compensate for the time we do not spend with our kids. We have such big to-do lists, we work 40-70 hours a week, and we are tired. Somewhere in there we must find a balance. Our kids must be our first priority. We must come to the point we decide what we can do without in order to spend more quality time with our kids.
They learn from us. They will have a family of their own one day and they too will find themselves saying, "Well, in my day we..." What is it that we want our kids to say? What values do we want them to walk away with? It is something to ponder.
I have seen children that have much, and in their heart they carry very little. I have seen kids who don't have much in material things, but in their heart, it is filled with a love that will carry them through life and lead them on to a more productive life, giving, loving and sharing.
I am grateful for how I grew up. I am now thankful for those kids who sit in front of me each Wednesday night making me smile and taking me back to a time in my life where I can look back and see where I was and just where the Lord has brought me today. A woman with a grateful heart and is humble before all others.